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Analyst: Google Will Take Full Control of Updates

February 18, 2016 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Updates on Android has been a problem for Android’s entire history. While things have gotten a bit better, there’s still a long way to go. After all, one of the most popular Android smartphones from 2015 – the Samsung Galaxy S6 – is just now getting its update to Marshmallow. A full 4 months after it was made available to manufacturers and even custom ROM makers. This is something that Google has been attempting to help fix for years now. A few years ago, Google developed the “Android Update Alliance” with many of their partners, but that did little to help. Now, it appears that Google is looking to take full control for rolling out updates to their firmware, according to an analyst.

An analyst at Edison Investment Research, Richard Windsor is believing that Google will take full control of the firmware, and take the updates away from hardware partners. He also noted that due to the slow adoption of Marshmallow (just an example, as other versions of Android have been slow like this) is getting in the way of new product rollouts for the search giant. One of those new products being Now on Tap. Another reason that Google could be tired of the slow updates is, security. After the many security vulnerabilities found last year, Google and other manufacturers decided to do a monthly security update. However, most devices are now two months behind, and carrier versions are even further behind. Windsor thinks that Google will take complete control in rolling out updates, this will be done by moving the entire OS into their services layer, which is called Google Mobile Services. By doing this, it means that fragmentation will no longer be as big of an issue on the platform. The other way for Google to do this is to close down the OS, much like iOS and Windows 10, where hardware partners have no choices for making changes to their software.

Marshmallow is at 1.2% adoption, which may seem pretty decent compared to previous versions of Android after four months. But if you take a look at Apple’s iOS, they have 87% of their user-base on iOS 9 already, which came out within weeks of Marshmallow. This is a result of Apple being able to push updates out directly to their phones and not waiting for carriers to okay the update. Windsor also is believing that this change might go hand in hand with the changes that Google has made in terms of hardware needed to run Android. In the past couple of years, Google has gotten a bit more prescriptive in hardware that partners can use. Also in terms of how they can alter the OS on their smartphones.

We’ve been hearing for a few years that Google might be looking for a way that they can control software updates. Although we haven’t seen anything that actually works just yet. That might be about to change in the near future. It’s something that all users can appreciate too. As updates directly from Google also mean you’ll get new features quicker, like Doze and Now on Tap.